‘Girls on a Mission’ – four girls in UP spreading education

Engagement through video at the Digital India Summit

Girls on a Mission
'Girls on a Mission' documentary by four girls of UP namely Punneta, Rinku, Nisha and Pinky. Photo Wan-Ifra

On the second day of the Wan-Ifra Digital Media India events, Tamseel Hussain, chief executive officer of ‘pluc.tv’ and ‘letmebreathe.in’, spoke about the video ‘Girls on a Mission’that his company enabled 4 young village women to make. The video received over 8 million views and won pluc.tv its second consecutive silver medal for best use of online video in the South Asian Digital Media Awards.

Pluc.tv works with criteria of video making and earning independently. It is a unique creator ecosystem helping the 99% create, influence and gain financial independence. “In this ecosystem, 99% call themselves creators, but only 1% of them can influence”- said Hussain at the Wan-Ifra virtual event.

Four and half years ago, pluc.tv started ‘People like us Create’, a platform where people can tell their own stories in a factual and fact-checked way. Of its three platforms, ‘Pluc.tv’, is an episodic platform, and ‘letmebreathe.in’ is a visual and text platform about climate change, sustainability stories and nature. ‘The Social Saheli’ is about rural women entrepreneurs who use stories to promote their businesses.

Hussain explained that, “after intensive training was provided for all the girls engaged in the ‘Girls on a Mission’ documentary which was shot with his team and the girls together. We have done a hybrid training with the girls as it was the time of Covid-19”. He asserts that the documentary was shot in a record time of 48 to72 minutes.

Following the Covid-19 problem pandemic and the schools being closed for almost two years, almost 11 million girls may be unable to return to school. School dropout is typical to rural India, and the pandemic has only exacerbated the problem. But some of the girls in Kushinagar, Uttar Pradesh, aren’t going down without a fight. Puneeta, Nisha, Rinku, and Pinky, members of the ‘HerAkshar’ community of user-generated digital tales, resolved to make a difference in their town.

They began a school enrollment push and continued it throughout the pandemic to guarantee that more females were educated. To ensure that no one was left behind, the girls enlisted the help of local opinion leaders. They organized a campaign to raise education awareness in Mishroli and Shahpur Khalwa Patti villages. The initiative reached 1500 individuals in 10 villages throughout Uttar Pradesh. 166 children (52 boys and 114 girls) enrolled in school as a result of the initiative, which reached 218 Mushahar families. The girls had only recently begun to inspire fellow community members about the value of education at the grassroots level when they met the ‘Pluc’ team for the first time.

People Powered Digital Narratives has launched a documentary – Girls on a Mission, which chronicles the contribution of young women leaders to promoting education in their communities.

“Girls are discriminated against and made to do household chores. I took up the responsibility to enrol all girls in my village in the school and ensure that they do not drop out,” said Nisha from Shahpur Khalwapatti.

“We have made it a movement in our village to enroll girls to school through an association that we have created called the Ramabai Kishori Sangathan that seeks to increase the enrollment of girls and to keep them in school through the School Chalo Abhiyan,” said Pinky Kumari from Mishroli village.

Girls face a lot of discrimination, and getting an education is difficult. The ‘School Chalo Abhiyan’ was launched in 10 villages, with 445 boys, 407 girls, and 126 support personnel, including school teachers, school management committee members, ward members, and community-based organization members.

Puneeta, Rinku, Nisha and Pinky joined hands with an NGO to form two groups. The ‘Kishori Sangathans’ (young women’s organizations) discuss improving hygiene, health, environment, and education. Puneeta and Nisha did so in Shahpur Khalwapatti and Pinky and Rinku, in Mishroli.

“Earlier, parents were hesitant to send their girls to school. We explained to them the benefits of school education and had to persistently work in the villages to bring about a change in mindset. We are glad we have got some success at this,” said Rinku from Shahpur Khalwapatti.

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

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